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Yemeni president blasts opponents on TV

SAN'A, Yemen -- Embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh lashed out yesterday at opponents seeking to drive him from power in his first public appearance since he was injured last month in a blast at his palace compound, an attack that left him appearing stiff and weakened.

Sitting rigid in a chair, his hair covered with a cloth and his hands wrapped in white bandages, Saleh accused "terrorist elements" of carrying out the June 3 attack and criticized his opponents for trying to topple him. He wore a white robe and his face appeared noticeably darker than before the attack.

"Many have understood democracy incorrectly, through incorrect practices," Saleh said in a seven-minute, prerecorded video broadcast on Yemen state TV from Saudi Arabia, where he is receiving treatment.

Saleh said he has undergone more than eight "successful operations," adding to speculation about the severity of his injuries. He did not say whether or when he would return to Yemen.

Without naming any particular parties or groups, he called for dialogue as the only way to end the country's crisis.

"Where are the conscious people? Where are the honest people? Where are the believers and the men who fear Allah? Why don't they stand with dialogue?" he said. "They should stand with dialogue so we can find solutions."

More than four months of popular uprising seeking to push the longtime ruler from power have shaken the impoverished corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

Saleh has been in treatment in Saudi Arabia since June 5, the last time he addressed his people, in an audio message broadcast on state TV.

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